Northwest Center for Optimal Health: Natural Medicine Specialists





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Natural Medicine Q&A
Ask Dr. P
by Kasra Pournadeali, ND
Natural Medicine Specialist

Dear Dr. P, I heard your radio show where you discussed detoxification. How long do you recommend fasting? Thanks, Jake.

Dear Jake; I’ve been asked your question many times, as so many want to cleanse their system in the spring. Most of us can tolerate a one day liquid fast, depending on activity, lifestyle, and overall health, but even this is not universal. I rarely recommend longer fasts as they can create unnecessary stress on your system. To promote detoxification (the removal of toxins), your body needs nutrients. In a starvation (or fasting) state, your ability to mobilize toxins is slowed. To prevent this, and assure detoxification is promoted (or accelerated), I encourage patients to use one of several nutrient-dense medical food powders. They can help assure your body has the nutrients it needs while avoiding what it doesn’t when “cleansing your system”.

Dear Dr. P., What is you opinion on the controversy with using cell phones, do you think they are safe? Thanks, Katherine

Dear Katherine; as we all realize, cell phones are big, big business. Although short-term studies seem to suggest they are safe, they have some important limitations. First, study data is often manipulated when big money is involved. Second, the studies on cell phones that suggest no increase in the incidence of brain tumors are only short-term (2 years or less). The problem with this is that most tumors, developing from radiation exposure, occur 10 to 20 years after the exposure. Unfortunately, we just don’t have a 20-year history of cell phone use to properly determine if there is increased risk. We need another 5-10 years of observation to really know if there has been an increase in the incidence of brain tumors. My recommendation is to always use a headset or speaker when using a cell phone until we are more certain of their safety. That’s what I try to do.—yes I own two of them!

Dr. P., I’ve heard that a little wine every day is good to prevent heart disease, but I don’t like red wine. Does white wine have the same effect? Thanks, Eileen

Dear Eileen; drinking alcohol every day is very stressful on your liver, wreaks havoc on your blood sugar, depletes important nutrients, and alters brain chemistry. The multitude of evidence that suggested wine intake was helpful in reducing heart attacks was based on the European diet, which includes a tremendous amount of olive oil—a heart healthy food. When the European diet was compared to the standard American diet (high animal fat and high carbohydrate) it’s not surprising that incidence of heart attacks was lower in Europe where wine consumption also happened to be higher. Likewise, flavonoids (the nutrients that give red wine its deep color) are very helpful in strengthening the arterial wall, and can therefore be responsible for some beneficial effects also. In fact, at least one study showed consumption of purple grape juice seemed to have heart healthy effects. I suspect that studies suggesting benefit from red wine consumption were not controlled for olive oil intake, other heart-healthy foods, or flavonoid content, and therefore we just cannot conclude the benefits were from the alcohol alone. In medical schools, we learn that daily consumption of alcohol is alcoholism. I’m not sure when that definition was relaxed, but to use the words of a special patient of mine who quit drinking: “I never realized how medicated I was until I quit!”

Dear Dr. P, I’ve heard that Kava could be toxic to my liver, but I’ve been taking it for some time now. Is it safe? Sharon

Dear Sharon ; the universal answer is it depends! There have been a few case reports of elevated liver enzymes (on blood tests,) and even one death in patients who have used Kava. However, adverse events with Kava typically occur when it was used with other medicines that are stressful on the liver, or when recommended dosing is exceeded. I watch my patients closely when using higher dosing of this plant medicine, and have found no evidence that it’s been harmful when used properly. Remember that natural medicines do work. And, since they are MEDICINES, they are not risk free. Always use Kava and other plant medicines under the supervision of your naturopathic doctor. This assures that you use only the plant medicines that are safe and appropriate for you. Have a Great Month!

For more information or to schedule an appointment, please contact the Northwest Center for Optimal Health at (360) 651-9355.

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